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Spanish grandmother's restoration fail gets an unlikely fan following

By
KATE STANTON, UPI.com
The original Ecce Homo painting on the left. Cecelia Gimenez's restoration is on the right. (Handout by Centro de estudios Borjanos)
The original "Ecce Homo" painting on the left. Cecelia Gimenez's "restoration" is on the right. (Handout by Centro de estudios Borjanos)

Spanish octogenarian Cecilia Gimenez became a web hit last week after her misguided attempt to restore a 1910 fresco "Ecce Homo" by Elias Garcia Martinez left Jesus Christ looking like a furry monkey.

Though some critics said that the 81-year-old had "destroyed" the painting, it didn't take long for the online community to rally behind Gimenez's unsolicited but well-intentioned restoration, appropriating the face of the now blurry animal-Jesus to reinvent other works of art.

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Blurry-faced Last Supper:

Bob Ross painting Jesus:

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"Lion King" Jesus:

lion king

A "restored" Mona Lisa:

Naturally, there's now an ironic appreciation group for this--The Beast-Jesus Restoration Society, which claims that Gimenez actually improved upon an already unimpressive work of art.

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From their Facebook page:

In the year of our Lord 2012, an old woman identified in the world media as 'Old Woman' showed us the way. With a masterful restoration of Elias Garcia Martinez' fussy, overwrought and improbably human-looking "Ecce Homo" she allowed us at last to gaze upon the lost true face of Our Saviour. JOIN HER!"

The group's Tumblr page also curates an assortment of Beast-Jesus send-ups for your perusal.

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Now that Gimenez, who has described herself as an artist, could face legal action, users of Change.org have created an online petition--it already boasts more than 18,000 signatures--asking the church not to make any changes to her work on the painting.

According to AFP, the online petition states that Gimenez's work "reveals a subtle criticism of the Church's creationist theories while questioning a resurgence of new idols."

Plus, there's the Twitter account "Fresco Jesus," daily musings from the "handsome fresco now a hedgehog."

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Jonathan Jones of the Guardian also has praise for Gimenez, calling her an "inadvertent iconoclast," and playfully suggesting that she should take her paintbrush to even more works of art.

"Many true masterpieces are starved of the global attention this second-rate Ecce Homo has now got," Jones says.

Harsh criticism from the media -- exemplified an obviously hard-hearted BBC reporter's remark that "the once-dignified portrait now resembles a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic" -- has reportedly caused Gimenez to suffer from anxiety attacks.

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